‘This is our way of life’: Greater Manchester Gypsy community mark Roma Day with cultural show in Leigh

By Colin Henrys

Gypsies in Leigh marked International Roma Day with a celebration of song and dance in the town earlier this week.

More than 20 young members of the town’s Romani community presented a cross-cultural performance of traditional and modern songs and dances to a packed Leigh Miners’ Welfare Club on Monday.

The performers are all members of the Wigan Council-backed Kámoši youth project run by the Voice and Engagement Team and supported by Ethnic Minority Achievement Service staff.

And they believe the event was important to showcase the history and culture of the Roma people.

Dancer Patricia Gadzorova, 16, explained: “We wanted to say this is our culture, this is our way of life and invite other people to celebrate it with us.

“We have worked hard on this performance and we are really pleased with it.

Fellow performer Rene Horvath, 14, a beatboxer and MC, said: “Our life in Leigh is very different to how it used to be and we wanted to show these differences through the performance.

“Our identity is Roma but our home town is Leigh, which is what made this celebration so important.

“I was really pleased with how everyone performed – I think it was a great success.”

The show, featuring performers from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds who were all aged 10-17, lasted an hour and a half.

It was backed by Wigan Council, Community Arts North West and the Arts Council for England and Mehmood Ahmed, of the Voice and Engagement Team, praised the group’s efforts.

“It was a statement about their own identity – living in Leigh but hailing from a very a different cultural background,” he explained.

“The idea was to celebrate the unique culture and identity of the Roma people through a performance which mixed a lot of different traditions but also expressed the influences that life in England has had on the young people.”

He also explained the performance – inspired by Žarko Jovanović, who wrote the Roma National Anthem Djelem Djelem – was entirely designed by the youngsters.

Roma Day was first declared in 1990 and aims to break down barriers existing between different cultures and communities by fostering greater understanding of each other.

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.

Related Articles